Don Moses Comedy & Magic Blog - A light hearted look at life, comedy and magic.

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August 12th, 2007

Is it ever acceptable to wear a cape?

Well, did you look up “Barry Ryan – Eloise” on “youtube”? And do you think the cape will ever come back as a fashion item? Everything these days is retro, so why not? I reckon, that if “they”* found the video of the cape wearing Elvis and released that video along with the Eloise video, then people would start wearing capes. Who knows, it may even encourage people to ride horses while wearing their capes; that has got to be good for the environment.

It is strange that nowadays if someone doesn’t understand my “seasoned with age” thoughts, I can simply show them exactly what I am talking about by using the internet. What I mean is, years ago, we used to pass on knowledge to the next generation by sitting them down and telling them about the past. This worked, mainly because the children had attention spans and did not have Wii to distract them. However, today, if somebody hasn’t your vision of a particular memory, you can implant it into their brain in a “Tom Cruise Minority Report” kind of way, simply by saying “click here” on youtube to see what I used to watch when I was a kid. So now we have the ability to bring everyone upto speed, making sure the next generation’s heads, are as full as mine with useless information: you can’t tell me that isn’t progress.

Oh, I will remember anything, really, facts like, in 1977 there were 450 Elvis impersonators in the world, in the year 2007 there are over 200,000 of them and if this trend continues by the year 2057 one in four of us will be an Elvis tribute (I strongly advise buying shares in cape manufacturing firms).

Talking again of Elvis, the question“which Elvis did you like?” is almost as perennial as the James Bond preference one. There was of course the holiday camp blazered Elvis (only shown above the waist) or the very pretty, all black leathered, Elvis – which after Sharleen Spiteri did that video, is just too confusing to watch. No, in my opinion, it has to be the “pork chop” side burned, towel wiping, karate inspired 70’s Elvis. I mean, what could be more manly than a white sequinned jump suit – no sexual ambiguity confusion there surely?

It is coming up to exactly 30 years since Elvis died at the (kind to his memory) age of 42. 95% * of Elvis’ appeal has to be his, looking like, he was really enjoying himself entertaining those people. Charisma is impossible to break down – it is all the little things added up I suppose; the way he joked with the band, his eyes disappearing when he smiled etc (I am not gay by the way).

There are plenty of people (and comedians) who have made “ageist” fun of the fact that they would not like to see Elvis at 72. But to me, it should never be about age. No, it is about the performer still wanting to do it; and that life force can transcends age. Ok, he might have to pass the microphone over to his younger backing singer to hit that final difficult note but as long as he was enjoying himself and he was throwing in a few karate moves, we’d all be happy wouldn’t we? I could be wrong of course.

*Have you noticed I say “they” a lot? Who are they? They say they can put a man on Mars etc – who the hell are they? No wonder there are so many conspiracy theories around.

*arbitrary percentage made up on the spot

August 11th, 2007

youtube search – “Eloise – Barry Ryan”

I was working the other night on the same bill as a band: one member of this band had been responsible for that “dance remix”, of the 1977 song “Thunder in my heart”, that was so popular last year. I told him I loved that record (leaving it up to him to decide whether I actually liked his little version or the original masterpiece by the great Leo Sayer).  Most of these recordings where “they” lazily choose a classic song and then, talk over the top of it, are, how can I say this? – Oh yes, shit.  I mean, my dad used to talk over “Top of the Pops” when I was trying to record it with my microphone and spool to spool, but I never thought “I must release this as a single”.

Anyway it turns out he was a very nice guy and not just because he really enjoyed my performance.  We talked in the one changing room (to be used by both sexes, it did have a sink, mirror and seat so I wasn’t complaining).  As we were ushered out of this laughable green room by the female member of the band wanting to get changed (yes, we could have just looked the other way, that is what I thought) we talked about music.  I told him of my love of the classics from the 1960’s and 70’s: for example: Neil Diamond, Glen Campbell and Barbara Streisand (oh yes, I was bullied).

I told him I also love records which have great introductions, for example, “Thunder in my heart” (he was probably still undecided which version I meant).  Yes, I love a song which starts with a massive, completely over the top, intro and then, actually has the audacity to deliver.  Records like the “Rocky theme (Gonna fly now) and *Eloise by Barry Ryan (and to a lesser extent) Macarthur Park, open brackets, someone left the cake out in the rain, close brackets (it is actually just, “Macarthur Park” but I know you like doing a Jimmy Saville impression).  And talking of impressions, don’t even get me started on the fantastic “The wonder of you” by Elvis.

Imagine being out in the fresh air, running up concrete steps with the backdrop of an industrial wasteland, listening to the Rocky theme or Eloise by Barry Ryan (there is a slow bit in the middle – perfect for getting your breath back, if you are not that fit).  Although, I wouldn’t recommend Macarthur Park, as you would probably just sit on the steps sobbing.
I can’t wait for Channel Four to make another one of those “talking head” shows (that is the industry name for that genre of programme).  It would have to be titled something like “The Top 100 “over the top” records which make you either cry or feel ridiculously optimistic”.  I will probably get asked to say something witty like “if only Richard Harris had an A4 folder to keep his recipes in, he could have made the cake again” or maybe not.
Now you will have to forgive me, I am off to buy some new trainers.

*If you are very young and don’t get these references – put the following words in the search box of youtube

“Barry Ryan – Eloise” – and watch the 4 minute and 40 second clip and then, tell me how that is the best record you have ever heard.  The video doesn’t even need the Peter Kay treatment.  It is all there already, the Austin Powers’ hair and shirt – hellfire, he even has a horse and a cape, what are you waiting for?

Also to see Elvis do his karate moves, search “Polk Salad Annie – Elvis”: And if you feel like a cry, how about the “Rocky theme” and “The wonder of you – Elvis”.  You will thank me.

August 10th, 2007

The King

You know life can’t be that tough if your first thought in the morning is “I must change the Cds in the car”.  There is nothing worse (really Don? Nothing worse, are you sure?) than being locked into an nine hour round trip and you have forgotten to remove other people’s music from your car’s changer – I don’t own an ipod – two reasons – I am over the age of 15 (seems to be my excuse for everything) and I also have an attention span which allows me to commit to a full album (probably Elvis) without flicking around.

My travelling time for my gigs over the weekend is eight hours – it is spread out, so not a problem, it should be a piece of cake.  That reminds me I should really pack some food.  This is not because I don’t want to pay motorway services’ prices, far from it actually, if they are going to provide me with award winning toilets the least I can do is patronise them – when I say patronise obviously I mean, to be a regular customer, I don’t mean I say “oh these sandwiches are so cheap how do you manage it and with so little salt, no I mean it you are really really great”.

No the reason is when you get to a gig (we say gig it makes us feel like we are in a band) you are never sure how much the client values you.  This can vary greatly from dinner at the top table and the client saying “let me help you with your things, just say if you need anything won’t you?”-  right down to, “Who?”   “Dave, (shouts louder) DAVE, did we book a musician? Sorry a magician? A magician Dave?”  “Dave wants to know are you going to make him disappear“.  I wonder if the Mafia get that too.  Also, set up areas vary, from best boardroom down to “couldn’t swing a mouse with a very short tail” broom cupboard, and this is the one I like, the wait for it….….“disabled toilet if I want to use that?”   this always reminds of the long rambling joke that ends in the punch line “what and get out of show business?”

Anyway back to the important stuff.  Yes definitely some Queen – there is one track which always makes me smile it goes “Don’t stop me now” – I think it might be called “Don’t stop me now”.  The sign of a great performer is the ability to work on two levels – by that I mean as soon as you hear the song you smile A. because it is great music and B. because the passage of time has made the actual live performance (how can I say this) well quite funny.  Yes it is impossible to watch Freddie Mercury or the later years Elvis doing his Karate moves (come on I mean who would do that in public?) without smiling to the point of nearly laughing.   That reminds me I will put some Elvis in, what with the anniversary coming up.  Yes I do have music from this Century actually, cheeky.

Right, so music is sorted , Sat Nav programmed (fingers crossed on that one), food check, shirts ironed check, white sequinned jump suit check.

August 9th, 2007

Top tips for Edinburgh

I am still not up at the festival yet -but will be very shortly.  So I thought I would give you a list of ideas for surviving the festival.  I hope the list is excellent so it helps you (with possibly your first festival, who knows?) and also reminds me of my travel and packing arrangements .  However, as this is my blog I will be simply verbalising all my thoughts like an excitable 8 year old.  So what I am saying is, I have no idea if the tips will be any good or how many they will be.  This is now my 20th blog and quite frankly I have stopped agonising over my incorrect use of the semi colon, hellfire man, can’t you see I am working against the clock.

Anyway here there are:

Try to blag VIP tickets for the lounges so you can rub shoulders with the stars.  Oh yes stars love  their shoulders being rubbed , although Nicholas Parsons hates having his chin tickled.
Always carry water – Edinburgh is very dehydrating – it must be all that sunshine.
Forget style – take your most comfortable shoes for walking – you will thank me.  You can get taxis (and there are many) but if you have a good map and/or know the short cuts it is actually quicker to get where you need to be walking.  Don’t forget Edinburgh works on two levels  – I mean exactly that – and not that kids laugh at different parts to adults.
I don’t know whether they will be there this year, but in past years there have been a group of incredibly fit and stupidly optimistic “pedal rickshaw” cyclists.  That is right, you and your loved one (or wife) sit in the back and this beefcake pedals you up the hills.  I don’t think they were there last year, maybe the novelty has worn off.  I often think people pursue a business simply because they come up with a great name for that business – I am almost sure that is what happened with wait for it……. “chariots of hire” – fabulous isn’t it?
Why do you want to climb Arthur’s Seat? Edinburgh not hilly enough for you?
Take a very light weight rucksack – you don’t have to wear it back to front this isn’t London.  In it, place clothing for all four seasons – the weather can snap as quickly as Nicholas Parsons having his chin tickled.  If you are a Geordie ignore that last tip – one tee shirt is fine.
Try something you wouldn’t normally do  (Good advice for Edinburgh  maybe not so good advice in Amsterdam).
Book your show tickets in good time.
Accommodation is the big problem in town – this year I doubt (even if you wanted to stay at the prestigious hotels and had spare arms and legs to throw at the problem of cost) you would get a room.  Guest houses further out should be ok but best to book early.
Pace yourself.

This blog took 37 minutes I think this is a personal best – unless I faff around and tidy it up – damn this O.C.D.

August 8th, 2007

A Clunky Novel

Well first of all thank you, if you did read yesterday’s “catch up” bit of nonsense.  The title was “Nothing” (a big clue there, I think) so I assume your expectations of a great blog were fairly low anyway.  You may have guessed from yesterday that I am not a fan of Eastenders – if you watch such shows, what are you doing with your life? – it is bad enough you are reading this.  No, you should be outside playing sport in the fresh air or at least bowling on your new Wii with the patio door open.

You are probably wondering if this daily blog is helping me in anyway come up with new material for my act.  Oh by the way, I will get around to reading your emails and posting them on the blog page – I just have to find out how to do that (I will probably do it tonight after Corrie – argh got you).  So is the blog helping, or is it, my best ever excuse for not exercising early in the morning?  Well, it does make me look at life, in order to come up with something to say in the blog .  So I am constantly more aware of the minutiae of life – that’s right, the insignificant things which are quite rightly overlooked by normal people with jobs.

Let me see if I can give you an example.  The other day I noticed a sign on the A19 which read “tractors slow down”.   I thought, don’t tell them that – I think that is what is holding us up now.  I would not use it as material, but it is making me think a different way (yes a life threateningly different way I grant you).  A bit like the sign “slow children ahead” outside a special school (rub it in why don’t you)*.  I also play around with ideas which are so politically incorrect I could never use – such as: 1977 lots of bullying – only one fat kid in the class,  the year 2007 no bullying etc

I am even starting to notice good things (which probably have no comedy value at all).  For example, I was in the Woodall services’ toilets – they were incredibly clean and they had a plethora of hand driers (the powerful type, not like the “need a towel after 3 minutes of drying” pathetic ones) .  They have only won an award – they had an “Egon Ronay style” certificate stating “Loo of the Year”, then in small print – valid until 31st December 2006.  They had not slipped in their standards as I assume they did not want to be beaten by that Tibshelf bunch and were striving to be on the “Roll of honour” for 2007 (like I said probably no comedy value at all).

These blogs take me one hour to do – they are always over 500 words.  If there are any English Teachers out there, without showing you the maths here (you will just have to believe me) it would take a year to write a novel.  Ok, so my novel would be reviewed as very clunky unless I was able to pull together 365 story endings in a “pulp fiction” coming together kind of a way (that isn’t going to happen by the way).   But it is food for thought for you, unless you are too busy watching Eastenders.

*credit to Jimmy Carr

August 7th, 2007

Nothing

I have to be honest with you, I am writing this on the Thursday as I am now well behind with the “daily blog“.  Anyway, I am doing my best to catch up – I am just going to have to write everything that is in my head now.  Surely not the stuff about the hot one from the Pussy Cat Dolls and Danni Minogue – yes Don you need the word count. 

This is ridiculous, there must be a quicker way – like speaking into a tape recorder then typing it out.  That is right, I do have a digital camera with a setting for voice record and audio playback (oh yes, I read every page of that instructional manual – God I do have a woman’s brain, what is happening to me?).  So here goes – well as soon as I have charged up the batteries – so in two hours time I will be flying through the blogs like something which flies superbly (oh I haven’t time to think of an analogy and just look at the extra words I am getting by being a bit thick).

Ok the batteries are charged and I’ve recorded today’s blog and I am ready to go, pause button off
 - Well I had told you that Sunday was my day off so maybe I should tell you what I did.  (pause) Yes that would be good (cough).  I am aware I don’t actually have to write down everything I have on the audio playback but just explaining that, has given me extra words (who is the idiot now – you are still reading this aren’t you?).

I had wanted to relax in our manageable garden – I think that is how the estate agent had described our very small garden.  You couldn’t play tennis in it but you may be able to play swing ball if you shortened the string and did not mind grazing the fence occasionally.  As I said I would have liked to have relaxed in the sun (what with the summer now officially underway) and catch up on my sleep.  As I have mentioned, I love to travel and to perform.  The performance side is never tiring as there is no limit to my crowd pleasing idiocy, however, the travelling is unbelievably tiring and those Eastern  European waitresses aren’t going to flirt with themselves (stop trying to picture that, Really!).

Anyway on Sunday we decided to get some exercise – I was told I needed some.  So we went off on our bikes, cross country.  We stopped to take in the view.  It was a clear day and you could see all the way down to the Yorkshire coast and all the way up to Northumberland’s great beaches.  It was like the aerial shots you get on the BBC programme “Coast” (I like such programmes and happy the BBC spend my money on them – I will even watch Griff Rhys Jones climb mountains for no reason – much better than the miserable sarcasm driven conversations in Eastenders with its non-aspirational / advertising teenage pregnancies, plot lines).  I don’t think non-aspirational is a word – I get bitter and really bad at grammar when I am trying to catch up these blogs.

So there I was trying my best to recover from tiredness and getting lots of exercise – excellent training for Edinburgh next week.

August 6th, 2007

Stags

Yesterday was Sunday and I decided to have a day off.  I had got back from my weekend in Birmingham at 2:30am on Sunday morning.  It would have been earlier, only I was held up in the city centre.  It was a very interesting traffic jam as it went through the party area of Birmingham. Chairs and tables were out on the street in a café culture type of way (not because there was a fight inside). 

I do like to see people enjoying themselves.  There was a group of “Hens” blowing whistles and wearing pink cowboy hats.  Some of the ladies looked like the ones in that awful Eastenders’ advert on the BBC.   Surely, these ladies didn’t just look at this tawdry trailer for the flagging soap and say “that is good enough for us – we shall all go dressed as Cockney Slappers”.  Come on girls make some effort, last month I was in Newquay and the “groom to be” had been made to carry a 10 foot inflatable cock (with quite impressive detailing down the side) around with him. I laughed as the bouncers let the stag party in, however they insisted the massive synthetic member must stay outside the club. I overheard one of the Stags say “What if someone steals it?” He hadn’t really thought that one through.

Talking of Stags, I feel honoured to have been asked to go on an extended Stag weekend in Magaluf for my very good friend Michael Murray (a top bloke and great inventor of magic effects). I can’t go unfortunately, as I have bookings I can’t get out of – shame really as I was hoping to convert them all to radio 4 and vegetarian restaurants. They are all going dressed as Superheros – probably best I don’t go, as the last time I pretended to have powers that I didn’t really have, it did not work out so well (see mugging anniversary blog).

In my time I have witnessed the evolution of “The Stag”.  In 1975 the groom would have two drinks the night before his wedding day (three drinks if he was marrying the wrong woman).  However by 1977 it was de rigueur to get absolutely hammered. This behaviour did not even achieve £250 for the groom when he collapsed at the altar (video cameras were still to be financially viable).  In 1979 a law was introduced stating all stag parties must take place at least one week before the wedding day.  Again this did not last long – many wedding photos from the early 80’s were ruined due to black eyes and bandages (not to mention the hairstyles and Magnum* moustaches) and in 1982 talk of broken hands changed the way we planned stag nights forever. Now the Stag weekend or week should take place at least one month before – thus allowing for “fight with the best man” injuries to heal.  Some settle for three months before the wedding, as some “Nee body spills my pint” injuries can take longer to repair. In 1999 the law clearly stated Amsterdam or Europe and must involve at least two generations of Stags. This is quite obviously disturbing and wrong.

*Tom Selleck not the ice cream

August 4th, 2007

CSI

Coffee again in a flask by my bedside – my wife must be planning something.  By the way it is not really Saturday morning.  I have a busy weekend coming up and won’t have time to write on Saturday so here I am writing in bed on Friday morning.

I am gigging down in Birmingham over the weekend and setting off shortly, today which is Friday, honestly.  Look I will post the blog just after midnight tonight, if that helps you.

One of the venues in Birmingham is new to me so I am hoping the Tom Tom (Sat Nav) is on form.  I must redo (the correct term is probably upgrade or something like download, I should really have done an IT course by now) its memory to stop it getting confused on that new stretch of the A1M.  For about 10 miles or so it just starts making up directions I can’t possibly take.  I shouldn’t complain as it is still a fabulous invention – in fact so good it is the only thing I remember from watching “Tomorrow’s World”, well that, and the old Sinclair C5 (amazingly that never caught on – we wouldn’t be talking about global warming now if we had all just sold our dignity and simply bought into Sir Clive’s vision of the future, would we? – No we all decided to be cool and have proper cars – we are such idiots).

Anyway, this job is so much easier now with the Sat Nav (although probably more time consuming if I were in a C5).  I love maps don’t get me wrong I could look at them all day – I just can’t follow them without wanting to walk my body around 180 degrees to even try to understand them.  It is no wonder my IQ score is well below genius level, it was the space awareness shapes that let me down (that is my story anyway).  I am also beginning to think I have a woman’s brain as I quite like asking for directions.  Although I do get mad when the people I ask, seem confused.  I have discovered that, “Look – you have a dog on a lead and a newspaper under your arm and it is in the radius of a quarter of a mile, you must know – think man think” is not a good thing to say to help them with the directions though.

The organiser of the gig at the new venue sounds a very nice fellow and quite posh.  He did insist on a contract being drawn up, which is quite unusual as emails back and forth is sufficient for most bookers (and also for me to change the colour on my outlook calendar). 
It is, of course no problem, as I simply make up the contracts myself, cutting to the chase with no legal jargon – it is basically, I show up and do stuff, they pay, it is not difficult.  I have faith in our legal system dealing in common sense not like the American system.  Their system works on, guilty, unless you are very rich and/or you provided us with entertainment in the 1970s and 80s, if OJ and MJ are anything to go by.  I know it is well out of date now, but in the OJ Simpson case the foreman of the jury must have returned with the words “Not Guilty on account of it is never the most obvious person who did it” – In a kind of clever ending to an episode of CSI – so clever in fact that Horatio’s sunglasses come off, he looks to the middle distance, then puts his sunglasses back on before walking off.
That reminds me I hope my wife doesn’t tape over my “Still Game” programme with her CSI – how many of those CSI murder scene dramas can she watch? I hope she is not planning something.

August 3rd, 2007

Shows 4U2C@fest

That is, “Shows for you to see at the festival” (come on keep up, can’t you even txt yet).
My website manager has informed various website organisers that his client (that’s me) will be writing a blog from the Edinburgh Festival this year. This is true, although due to commitments I won’t be there for the full month (even if I did not have commitments I would still need some sleep surely).
I will be up there sometime mid August, you will probably notice when I am there in these daily notes (lets’ hope so; surely I’m not going to bang on about water aerobics all summer).
I feel since I will only start to review shows later in the month that I should let you know which comedy performers are consistently very good every year. Yes that would be a good start wouldn’t it?
So even before I get to the festival I would like to recommend the following – they are in first name alphabetical order and if I have missed you (and I know you really well and I like your act a lot) it means I really did not see your showcase “needle” amongst the “haystack” of listings (nearly 700 shows are comedy this year). So if I have missed out your show, catch me in Edinburgh and we will put that right, either by me reviewing your show, or depending on time, me saying it was great anyway (in a Blue Peter “you have already won the competition” kind of way).

Adam Hills (very happy – the exact opposite to Jack Dee in delivery)
Adam Bloom – very funny every year
Andrew Maxwell – won the king of comedy award in a big brother style comedy house – No? me neither, but he is still very funny.
Book Club Robin Ince – very dry poking fun at bad books – much better than I made it sound there.
Daniel Kitson – very very funny – nearly always 5 star shows
Frankie Boyle (that very funny Scottish guy on “Mock the week”)
Frank Skinner – tickets may be hard to come by.
Ian Stone – again very funny always
Lucy Porter – very funny (great photo Lucy – you are easily the best looking at the festival)
Michael McIntyre – very funny guy. He won the 2003 newcomer award – I was on the Perrier panel that year and I fought his corner to get him this award, but does he thank me?
Nina Conti very funny (great photo Nina – you are easily the best looking at the festival)
Pat Monahan – fantastic bloke, very funny comedian and compere.
Pete Firman – very funny and excellent mix of comedy and magic.
Phil Nichol – completely mad and of course very funny – won top award last year at Festival
Punt and Dennis – radio’s finest writers and performers
Ricky Gervais – tickets may be hard to come by, even though they are £37.50
Richard Herring – is 40 and very funny indeed
Rhod Gilbert – is Welsh and very funny indeed
Stewart Lee – is very dry and very funny indeed
Also if you have kids with you, call in to see James Campbell’s Comedy 4 kids – again very funny.

 

August 2nd, 2007

Htba magician part 2

Once you have gained “the knowledge” (that’s magical knowledge, you don’t need to learn all the street names in London – although I think Derren Brown does this as part of his stage act) then it is time to for you to work through and decide which magic effects work best for you.  More importantly, which effects sit well with your personality (I am assuming you have a personality).
Oh, by the way, this is point Number 6 – Subtitle: Get specific, Get ready.  This sounds easy but it is not as (if you are anything like me) you feel reluctant to throw out great effects (mainly because you have spent years mastering them and also because these effects get “killer” reactions) even though they don’t work for your style (yes style, I am assuming you have some of that too). 
My style is comedy and magic (it says Comedy and Magic in the title to my business just in case you can’t tell on the evening).  I am a big fan of this form of entertainment and of John Archer (a local lad if you happen to live near him and I do) and David Williamson (an American).  Both keep you laughing all the way through their sets.  It is only afterwards the audience realise they have seen some great magic too.  Only then can they backtrack in their minds, switching from relaxing and enjoying the journey of the act to “how on earth did he do that?”   I should point out that a lot of fellow performers disagree with me on this point, some even saying it trivialises the magic.  Like I said, you will have to decide what is best for you and your charisma (I am assuming – oh, come on, the chances of us both having it are fairly slim.)

7. Subtitle: Get creative, Get paid.  Next you should come up with your own new effects and more importantly new words to say (not just comedy as this may not be your style see 6 above – it may even mean coming up with the right music, as in the example I am about to give you) to entertain your audiences.  If the audiences are trying to find out during your act how you are doing these tricks then you are not entertaining them, you are just showing them puzzles.  To give you the (non comedy) example I just promised you, I could quite easily find out how Lance Burton does his dove act but I don’t want to know.  Why?  Because by the time he gets to the part where he tears one dove into two doves I am too busy enjoying the entertainment (I was going to say the artistry, but don’t want you coming around and beating me up) of it all.

8. WORK
9. WORK
10.  I was going to end with some glib comment about “The Ten Commandments” but I have remembered John is a Church goer and I don’t want to upset him (or more importantly God, for that matter).   So number 10 is – Oh I don’t know – don’t work with any animals: hamsters, doves or oxen (be they yours or your neighbours). 

August 1st, 2007

How to become a magician

People often ask me, “How do you do all of that stuff” (they are referring to my magic I think – I am not into drugs). This is good, as it shows that these people like my act (and hopefully they like me – However, if they ask me, “Why do you do it?” – well, that is not so good). These people usually follow up with: “Are you in the Magic Circle? When I say yes, the conversation usually ends as if I have said the code words “say no more”. It is as if in joining the Magic Circle you embark on a PHD in magic or better still the mysterious magical juices somehow wash over me, subliminally pouring into the crevices of my fresh young mind, suddenly her breasts heaved (opps sorry wrong article).

 The truth is you have to be proactive and focussed. As my name is Moses I will give you 10 suggestions (they are just suggestions, I mean they are not cast in stone that would be ridiculous). As I have explained this daily blog is a stream of consciousness and it is not a carefully thought out document of well crafted prose (whatever that is).  So at this stage of writing I don’t even know if I actually have 10 points to make about becoming a magician – more likely, there will be about 7 points, with me stretching them out to 10, in a kind of “take a break” magazine way.

 Anyway here they are:

 1. Read, read, read – everything you can on the subject (see the internet for books and even DVDs if you can’t be arsed to read) and make a list of questions.

2. Befriend a magician and meet up, buying him drinks whilst secretly working through your list of questions. Most magicians will help you as long as you have the basics learnt (and you are paying). The expression “God helps those who help themselves” is good advice for magicians (although, maybe not such great advice for kleptomaniacs).

3. Start with a goal in mind – visualise yourself performing in the future at paid gigs (if you would like to be a professional) – this will get you through darker times (see 4 below).

4. Enter competitions even if you think you are ill equipped or worse, under rehearsed – do it anyway, life is like learning to play the violin in public, just have a go. In the early days I entered a Magic Circle competition and every thing went wrong. My hamster (our family pet) had be commandeered by me to be the final load from my cups and balls routine. All three pieces of fruit appeared under the three cups to massive applause however my very adventurous fourth load of the hamster never materialised. I turned to see him in the corner of the room and I am sure he was giving me the jazz hands and going “daa darrr”. He retired from show business after this escapologist act. Don’t even get me started on my hammer and wedding ring trick which followed the hamster debacle.

5. Never work with animals or expensive jewellery.

I am sure I still have more to tell you about becoming a magician but you will have to wait for tomorrow’s blog. I just petered out there, didn’t I? If you notice I usually tidy up my daily blog, with the stories I have been talking about, being tied up in the end, like a Pulp Fiction final scene sort of way. However, if I am writing this blog everyday (which I am) then this type of ending may end up as being hackneyed and contrived. So you will just have to be happy with my new style of petering out my daily blog as if I have simply run out of ener

July 31st, 2007

Mugging Anniversary

So tomorrow is the start of August, and August means Edinburgh and flyers. Oh yes, even if your Edinburgh show is about environmental problems, today, you had better be boarding the irony free express with your 10,000 leaflets warning us of global disaster ,“A humorous show with a poignant look at our ultimate demise” (3 stars: the vegetarian weakly) . Not a spelling mistake – thought you were ready for a play on words – ok you’re not.

This leafleting or flyers (bloody Americanism) must work, otherwise they wouldn’t do it. If you have been to the festival a few times I guess you would simply ignore the pushed in your hand flyers. Instead you would simply read the reviews in the Scotsman newspaper and/or speak to your friends about which shows they liked. Or because this is Edinburgh, you could even talk to the strangers in the queues for other shows. Oh yes it is OK, these people mostly read, so talking to new people is considered a novelty. Although be warned who you talk to at 2 a.m., as many years ago I was mugged quite severely on Princes’ Street.

I had been up to the proper festival (not the fringe) to see my friend from LA perform in “West Side Story” and I was in a great mood – life was good but about to change. I was walking with my girl friend at the time, when up ahead my two male friends were having their heads kicked in for being English. This was in the bad times before racism was eradicated in Scotland. My girlfriend screamed, which is always the point in the movie when the guy has to do something. Without missing a beat I ran up to the gang of 15 or so (not an exaggeration, I just did not stop to count). When I jumped in to the circle of violence, I immediately performed the first few moves of a Kata I had learnt from a Karate expert – Oh yes impressive stuff, fair to say, at this point I am sure my girlfriend was still my girlfriend, in fact I was probably being “earmarked” for promotion to possible father of her children. Their very first kick to “my town halls” probably had her reconsider the fathering bit. In hindsight since we had just seen West Side Story I might as well have approached side ways, crouching down and clicking my fingers in a hard man kind of dance which slightly lets itself down when you start with the (quite camp in my opinion) jazz hands. Anyway I didn’t. After that first kick it all went in slow motion. Slow motion was probably appropriate as my Karate was probably more like Tai Chi, considering how much lash we had all consumed. It was only when I was in hospital looking like a panda with tender “towns” that I thought, did I really expect them to run away after my ridiculous moves – I had seen it work for Bruce Lee in the movie Fists of Fury. Bruce Lee of course had a strict diet and never drank alcohol at all – we on the other hand had skipped two meals that day and taken full advantage of the relaxed Scottish Licensing Laws.

Just for the record I was the most badly injured out of the three of us. The other two had simply curled up in a ball and had only rib and hand damage. They never actually thanked me for distracting the assailants (listen to me assailants – I mean twats). But to me the impersonations my two friends did of me, to all our friends, for the next two years was high praise indeed.

I remember the very next day, walking to Waverley station and waving away my wavy haired girlfriend for the last time. Dignity could never be repaired to that level surely.

July 30th, 2007

Online again at last

Well finally the internet is back on.  When it was off I thought I should really go on a computer course so I know what the hell I am doing.  But when the internet is reconnected I think I have better things to do than learn the complicated ways of I.T..  Mind, having said that, Paul (my computer guru friend) did fix my connection by putting a pin in the back of my router and twiddling it.  Yes the problem was solved as simply as resetting a £1.99 petrol station digital watch – who would have thought?  So now my computer knowledge is increased to, A. Switching the computer off, then switching it on again, and B. The twiddling of the pin in the router – who needs a course, I am practically an expert.

I have to admit my wife was right as the complimentary airplane eye covers are working a treat.  Also when I go to the toilet in the night, I like to slip them on to the top of my head and if I squint I look like I have a full head of hair.  Tempted to get a wig I stop squinting and realise it looks like someone has painted my head – not so good.

I have a great wife (remember she bought me the Derren Brown book) – even though she was going to work early I still get a flask of coffee by my bedside.  She is being extra nice to me after Friday night.  It was one of those business and pleasure mixing incidences – you know what I mean – the old “oh I am in Newcastle on Friday I finish at 10:30 what say I pick you up after your firm’s night out at say 10:45”.  What could possibly go wrong with that well intentioned offer?  Well, when I arrived they had lost one of their revellers (a young very attractive trainee).  To cut a long story short, I was still looking for a beautiful 20 year old blonde at 1am in the morning (and not in a good Rod Stewart sort of way neither).  This was my busiest weekend of the year with 4 gigs (and lots of travelling) still to do over the weekend – I was not happy.

I should point out this is a real one off for my wife who prefers reading to going out and getting hammered (she even misses rounds and occasionally drinks water during the evening).  She will never pass herself off as a Geordie with those shenanigans.  No my wife is an educated lady, who has more books than the Sunderland branch of Waterstones (don’t be making your own jokes up there).

Anyway, she has to be good to me because I am going into hospital this morning to make an operation appointment for September.  I have an athletic injury (even young people get this injury) Ok it is a hernia, but I refuse to talk about it being “routine surgery” as that always reminds me of Billy Crystal’s talk to the school children in “City Slickers” when he lapses into the depressing parts of the ageing process.

I hope I don’t have to wear the backwards gown – that is just embarrassing – surely the doctors know not all problems can be solved going in that way.  Put it this way, I will be very disappointed if the doctor asks me to bend over and approaches twiddling a pin and saying “I learnt this from an I.T. expert”.

July 29th, 2007

The blog from bed

It is another early start, 5-30 a.m. – finally the rain has stopped, in fact it is the sun that has woken me (usually it is my highly motivated and extremely disciplined wife).  I am a good husband and say nice things about my wife, don’t I? Although it is strange how married couples speak to each other in private isn’t it?  Insults you would never say to another human being – even dogs would be saying “hey! that was not called for”.  It is of course mainly light hearted but the words little idiot do crop up too often.  At least we aren’t one of those couples who disrespect (I am older than 15 so can’t bring myself to say Diss) their partner in public.  I am usually forgiving of such couples if I think it is just an unresolved argument settling.  But really it is not on, when everything the poor bloke says is greeted with the superior look and the accompanying Phil Mitchell sigh (No I don’t watch Eastenders, I just watched “Harry Hill’s Burp” taking the mickey out of the deviant thespian displaying all his acting skills).

Anyway like I said it was the sun that woke me – yes the sun finding the only gap in our otherwise blacked out bedroom.  It has started to find this gap at 4-30 a.m. until 6 a.m.  My wife says I should wear complimentary airplane black out eye covers, which make you look like an Irish Lone Ranger (arhh I do love an old 1970’s Irish joke – relax it is post modern irony).  I refuse to wear them as it is a slippery slope to an orthopaedic bed and walk in bath.

They say that the best time for creative writing (and exercise) is first thing in the morning.  So here I am writing today’s blog (and hopefully some hilarious new material) from my bed (you try telling your boss you would like to do the same – see what he says).  And of course I will use this as my excuse for not exercising – brilliant, what a clever (soon to be overweight) genius I am.

Nothing starts without coffee though, so the secret will be to get down the stairs and pick up a breakfast tray before all the great comedy bits slip from my head.  I make some quick notes (in fact these ones here) and rush downstairs.  I return making a note to set out breakfast tray the night before, as it took too long and I am sure some comedy nuggets must have filtered out by now (I also make note not to make bad gold mining analogies).

I have just realised I am taking this blog really seriously.  Although I suppose I should try to make it interesting so as you read it.  But on the other hand, it is only meant to kick start me to write top comedy which I can then seamlessly weave into my stand up act.  It is not meant to end up as a day by day autobiography to be used if I achieve a certain level of fame.

People often ridicule such autobiographies saying some of the “authors” are too young.  I don’t.  In fact I can’t wait for Kerry Katona’s second one titled “surviving the break in”.  And people quite wrongly had a go at Charlotte Church.  Well I can tell you that I have read Don Estelle’s autobiography and no where did it say “when I was 13, I granted the pope an audience with me”.

I get out of bed again and trip over my Derren Brown Book.  My wife saw it in Waterstones and thought I would like it.  I was ungrateful and said it was only for laymen (oh yes, we have a name for you).  I secretly read it anyway as Derren and Andy Nyman (the other brain behind the wonderful channel 4 series) are really nice guys (although I am sure they made me say that – I just realised that this joke only works if I say the words “are really nice guys” in a slow “as if I was hypnotised” way).  Andy’s son Preston is an 8 year old stand up comedian (it is a young man’s game these days I can tell you)*.  Preston is very funny although he lacks authenticity with his husband and wife material – I mean Preston, a man would never say that to his wife.  Kids ehh.

*check out the wonderful “James Campbell stand up comedy for kids”

July 28th, 2007

Clients

Well, still no internet.  The engineer (who I am now sure, was from Seaburn, I am never wrong on accents) was unable to fix the problem.  He tried all the tasks I had already done the day before using only my scientific brain and a series of control experiments to rule out potential problems.  This sounds impressive doesn’t it?  But really it means, I switched the computer off, and then I switched it on again and I did the same with my wireless router.  Only then did I telephone all my friends who were up to chapter 2 of “internet for dummies”.  Anyway, I have a very good friend of ours coming around to fix the problem this afternoon.  Thank you Paul, we would struggle without you.

So the logistics for my travel at the weekend have now been sorted (I have checked none are flooded).  I love the travelling part of my job (best on the train but car is good too).  It is just the whole thing of looking forward to seeing a new venue and meeting with (almost without fail) lovely people who have taken the effort to book me for their event.  This is not a joke, I genuinely feel honoured to help make their function a success.  I work extra hard on my prep these days, as I am competing with TV performers who, working through agents, are charging an “arm and a leg” for their 45 minute stage act (and of course asking for Riders*).

I was once at a function where a guest speaker (I won’t say who) had simply used his generic act.  There was nothing specific about the company he was addressing and it seemed all he had done was change the company name from his last booking to the company name of his performance that night.  Maybe the audience did not spot this unforgivable lack of real homework but certainly they were not laughing.  He even did a shorter set (thank God) because the event had been delayed.

Being the crowd pleasing idiot that I am, I am always flexible and the “waiting around” time is never a chore.  Often when waiting I will get extra information I can use in my act.  Also totally unsolicited, I will receive the offer of a future booking in this waiting time.  For example, sometimes I will be talking to the guests about sport and one of them will suddenly remember that his golf club in Hampshire is having a function and would I be able to perform there.  Result.

In Edinburgh a few years ago, I was speaking with a comedian, who said he did not like having his (FREE) breakfast in the hotel with the guests the day after the evening function.   Again, this is an excellent time to receive offers of bookings.  Anyway, if it was a free bar the night before, you should be the only one able to string a few words together.  I imagined this comedian ignoring the free meal at his luxury hotel and rushing to a converted caravan in a lay-by to BUY a botulism breakfast.  These eateries are generally called things like Snax – which is not even a joke now, what with it being the correct text spelling.  Mind having said that, the other day I was in Somerset and I saw a food caravan called “Breakfast at Timothy’s” and I did want to stop but only to congratulate the owner on such a great name.

*Riders are non financial rewards given to the acts in lieu of extra cash.  They can vary from train tickets pre-paid to a 5 star hotel room and a full evening meal on the top table.  I usually insist my hotel room is painted red and white and no one is to make eye contact but then that is just me.  Don’t even get me started on red M and M’s being in my green room

July 27th, 2007

OCD

7-58 a.m. an Early Start

Today, I am waiting in for the BT engineer.  8 a.m. until 1 p.m. is the time given.  The appointment was made 5 days ago, which sounds about right, as he will need that time to get over from India.  Actually, the engineer telephoned to confirm yesterday and he sounded like he was from Seaburn – I am really good at guessing accents and years ago I was easily able to geographically pin point the voice of that daft idiot who pretended to be the Yorkshire Ripper.  As you know, that voice was from a particular area of North Sunderland where they specialise in daft idiots.

Anyway, I must remember not to leave the house in case I miss the engineer in a Murphy’s Law* sort of way.   Do I dare put the bins out at the back at 8-02 a.m. only to find a card sticking in my letterbox saying “We used a sponge to knock on your door at 8-02 and 10 seconds and waited until 8-02 and 30 seconds – sorry we missed you – your business is important to us, and anyway it is not as if you have a proper job”.

So for the last 5 days we have had no internet on our two house computers – have I missed it?  The true answer – not really.  Not because I am chilled and flexible or even because I was harking to the days when I was a Luddite – no it is because I have everything backed up on my MDA* so using my OCD I can access it every 15 minutes.  I laugh at their BT exchange problems, it can never bring down DMC&M* (although to be fair, if it is my router which is faulty, I probably won’t be laughing too hard).

I was going to go to the gym today, as I am finding it easy to work there – but if the engineer is really late I might give it a miss.  I am sure I can work just as well from home.  And it is the school holidays, so the place will be packed with children (working as test pilots for new E numbers) and not just the usual large ladies with their delusional training programmes.

So while I wait I will use my time wisely and organise my bag prep and car prep for the weekend.  No problem to an organised person such as myself.  My car for example is arranged for all emergencies – first aid, owner’s manual, extra water and oil (and last week I had the airbags adapted to turn into a dinghy).  Next, I will match up my Sat Nav with all the hotel details as well as coordinating these details with the AA’s route planner’s accounts of how to get to the venues – it might seem a bit over the top but that story of me ending up in a field in Wrexham is true.

I am going to stop there, as there is a van outside with the same logo as my service provider – either this is a coincidence or it is the engineer.  He is tall and looks like that Irish actor who does the Yellow pages adverts – if only my neighbours were in I could point out to them that he does in fact look like James Nesbit, that’s the bloke.  The neighbours aren’t in as they have proper jobs.  A bit annoying really but then again that is Murphy’s Law I suppose.

*Below are your initial problems solved*:

*OCD stands for Only Checking Doors.  No it doesn’t, that was a joke (maybe I should get a proper job).  No OCD stands for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, which is when you are constantly tidying things or performing the same pointless activity over and over.    That reminds me I must take my big soap I don’t want to disturb the hotel displays.

*MDA stands for multimedia digital assistant – this is a chunky mobile phone with 2 sticks (in case you lose one) which you get to stab at the screen – a kind of voodoo for the 21st century.

* Murphy’s Law – this is the law that states that anything that can go wrong will go wrong.  Sometimes know as Sod’s Law – I prefer the more politically correct Murphy’s Law.

*DMC&M Don Moses Comedy and Magic: for details www.donmoses.co.uk


Don performs as a wedding magician, corporate entertainer, and after dinner speaker at events throughout the country. London Magician, Manchester Magician, Liverpool Magician, Birmingham Magician, Newcastle Upon Tyne Magician, Magician Surrey, Edinburgh Magician, Oxford Magician, Bristol Magician, Magician Milton Keynes, Leicester Magician, Leeds Magician, Magician Kent.